The Real Deal New York

Who has the tightest grip on NYC?

A firm-by-firm breakdown of which residential brokerages dominate in which nabes

November 01, 2013
By Katherine Clarke

strongholds_largeFor New York City’s biggest real estate brokerages, competing for residential listings is something of a blood sport. And it’s only grown fiercer in the last year, as the number of listings has shrunk amid a market-wide inventory shortage.

To find out which firms reign supreme in which areas of the city, The Real Deal poured over nearly 6,400 for-sale listings in 50 different neighborhoods across Manhattan and Brooklyn, using data from listings aggregator StreetEasy.

Not surprisingly, the city’s two largest firms — the Corcoran Group and Douglas Elliman, which have more than 1,000 agents each — have by far the most listings in almost every Manhattan neighborhood, and in some areas of Brooklyn.

Indeed, Elliman had 1,165 listings worth some $3.3 billion, encompassing roughly 18 percent of the properties surveyed by TRD last month.

Corcoran, meanwhile, had 1,052 listings totaling about $3.16 billion — or about 16 percent of the total. Halstead Property had 7 percent of all of the listings, which was slightly more than its sister company, Brown Harris Stevens. But the dollar volume of BHS’ listings came to $1.6 billion, far more than Halstead’s $705.3 million.

New firms like Town Residential are also beginning to grab market share. Founded in 2010, Town had roughly 2.5 percent of the listings in the areas examined by TRD, many of them clustered on the Upper East Side and in Tribeca.

And while major Manhattan firms have, of course, made major inroads in some Brooklyn neighborhoods, still-gentrifying Brooklyn areas like Greenpoint remain largely dominated by local firms. In addition, in Southern Brooklyn, areas like Bay Ridge remain largely the turf of local brokerages. (In Brooklyn, TRD focused on select areas that illustrate key market dynamics.)

Only active listings on StreetEasy as of early last month were included in TRD’s data, so properties in contract or not officially on the market were not counted. That means that some major new developments, such as One57, which have not publicly listed their units, were not tallied.

Read on to find out where each firm’s grip is strongest.

Neighborhood leaders

While many of New York’s priciest markets are seeing a slew of firms going head-to-head, there are a few neighborhoods where one brokerage has managed to grab the lion’s share of the listings.

Not long ago, brownstone Brooklyn was largely the domain of mom-and-pop brokerages. But over the last decade, major Manhattan firms have muscled their way in, either by buying up smaller companies or by pouring in money to chip away at their rivals’ market share.

So far, one major firm has done that more successfully than any other: Corcoran.

In 1998, Corcoran became the first large Manhattan brokerage to open a Brooklyn office, acquiring a 50 percent share of Brooklyn Landmark Realty. Elliman, meanwhile, didn’t plant a flag in Brooklyn until 2004, although each firm now has five offices in the borough.

Barbara Corcoran — who founded Corcoran but sold it in 2001 — told TRD she decided to set up shop in Brooklyn after hearing her step-daughter’s friends talking about living there.

“I said to myself, ‘something’s changing here,’” recalled Corcoran. “Then, of course, it blew up in value and also, very importantly, in status. It has outpaced Manhattan in appreciation over the last 10 years, in both good times and bad, because it’s gotten cooler.”

The move paid off for the firm. As of last month, Corcoran had 213 Brooklyn listings worth some $350.2 million, according to TRD’s research. Elliman, by contrast, had 122 Brooklyn listings worth about $194.7 million. Halstead and BHS followed with $119.2 million and $68.2 million, respectively.

Halstead may soon see a boost in listings, though. Earlier this year, it bought Carroll Gardens–based Aguayo Real Estate Group, giving it five total Brooklyn offices. And it’s not the only Manhattan firm expanding in the borough. Warburg Realty head Fred Peters told TRD last month that he plans to open a location in Brooklyn by the first quarter of 2014.

park-slope_tribeca-charts

Still, in Park Slope, where Corcoran, Elliman and BHS all have offices dotting Seventh Avenue, Corcoran had 44 of the neighborhood’s 147 listings, totaling $56.8 million, as of early last month. Its closest competitors, BHS and Halstead, each had just 13 listings in the neighborhood, while Elliman had 12.

Two of Corcoran’s pricey Park Slope listings — a 19th-century farmhouse property at 413 Dean Street listed for $2.5 million, and a townhouse at 535 3rd Street on the market for $3.4 million — both went into contract last month, according to StreetEasy.

The aggressive push into the stroller-filled area by Corcoran and other Manhattan firms has eaten away at the business of firms like 26-year-old, Park Slope–based Warren Lewis Realty, which had less than 4 percent of the listings in its own backyard. It may be poised to regain its foothold, however. Last year, it affiliated with a major firm and became Warren Lewis Sotheby’s International Realty.

In Boerum Hill, Corcoran had 15 listings, or 50 percent of the 30 properties on the market. Its closest competitor was D’Andrea Craig Realty, whose principal, Toni D’Andrea, has been active in the neighborhood for more than 30 years. D’Andrea Craig had just three listings in the neighborhood as of last month.

D’Andrea told TRD that her firm has seen a “dramatic downturn” in its income and a significant drop in walk-in clients since the big Manhattan firms began opening Brooklyn offices.

She said her company has just enough business to sustain itself through rentals, thanks to longstanding relationships with landlords of multifamily brownstones. But the firm has been feeling the pinch on the sales side of the business, she said.

“There’s tons more competition than there was five or 10 years ago,” she said. “There were more little mom-and-pop firms then, but a lot of those have been squeezed out or acquired.”

Corcoran also dominates in ultra-trendy Williamsburg, where the firm had a full 29 percent of the total listings on the market in the area last month — far more than Elliman’s 18 percent. Corcoran also bested Elliman and other firms in Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens.

Sarah Burke, executive vice president and director of sales for Elliman in Brooklyn, said the firm views Williamsburg as an area where it can catch up to Corcoran.

“Williamsburg is a newer market than those in brownstone Brooklyn,” she said. “Corcoran hasn’t been in Williamsburg that much longer than us.”

Burke added that Elliman has recently recruited a number of agents who were working in Williamsburg during the first wave of new development sell-outs.

Fidi-chart

Corcoran may have the upper hand in Brooklyn, but Elliman has the leg up in Lower Manhattan. Early last month, Elliman had 62 sales listings in the Financial District, or 36 percent of the total inventory in the neighborhood. By contrast, Corcoran had only 27 exclusives in the neighborhood, followed by the new development firm the Marketing Directors, which had 12 listings largely clustered in the W Downtown, where it was recently tapped to sell the remaining sponsor units.

Slightly outside of the Financial District in the Fulton Street/South Street Seaport area, NestSeekers International has a significant presence, thanks to a large number of exclusive listings at TF Cornerstone’s 99 John Street and at a condominium property at 138 Fulton Street.

In Battery Park City, meanwhile, Elliman had 16 sales exclusives last month — more than 22 percent of the listings in the neighborhood. Its closest neighborhood competitor is the local shop Battery Park Realty, which had nine exclusives. Halstead, BHS and Corcoran each have only one or two listings there.

Elliman’s Ariel Cohen — who previously lived at 15 Broad Street and is one of the most active brokers in FiDi — attributed his firm’s success in Lower Manhattan to the new development projects the company has represented there, including 15 Broad Street and 75 Wall Street.

Town CEO Andrew Heiberger noted that exclusive agreements to sell sponsor units in a few select buildings are an easy way to rack up a large number of listings in FiDi.

“Two or three buildings have all the listings,” he said. “You get a large share of the listings by being in a few 300-or-400-unit buildings.”

Chelsea-chart

Battleground neighborhoods

In the competition for exclusives, several Manhattan and Brooklyn neighborhoods are like Ohio and Florida in presidential elections — the most intense battlegrounds.

These neighborhoods are generally the most sought-after in the city, with pricier listings that translate into hefty commissions. Not surprisingly, among the most heated of these areas are Chelsea, Tribeca and the Upper East and Upper West Sides.

Indeed, all of Manhattan’s 10 largest brokerages are heavily active on both sides of Central Park. While Elliman and Corcoran have more listings in each neighborhood than any other firm, BHS and Halstead are breathing down their necks.

On the Upper West Side, Corcoran had the largest market share last month with 81 listings, about 18 percent of the total 454 sales listings in the area. Elliman ranked second with 63 listings, or 14 percent of the inventory, according to TRD’s research. Halstead trailed with 11 percent, while BHS rounded out the top bunch with 8 percent. But when it comes to the high-end market in the area, Elliman, Corcoran and BHS were essentially in a dead heat: For Upper West Side listings priced at $5 million or above, each firm had about 14 percent of the market share.

UES-chart

Corcoran also has an edge over other firms on the Upper East Side, defined by StreeEasy as being 72nd to 79th Street from Fifth Avenue to the East River and 79th to 86th Street west of Third Avenue. (Submarkets like Carnegie Hill, Lenox Hill and Yorkville were considered separately.) There, Corcoran landed the top spot with 22 percent of the neighborhood’s listings and Elliman snagged 17 percent. Next on the list were BHS and Halstead.

Sotheby’s — which only had 7 percent of all the listings on the Upper East Side — had the largest chunk of the luxury market there, with 17 percent of listings priced at $5 million or above. BHS had nearly 16 percent.

Warburg and Stribling, both mid-sized firms, had a far smaller percentage of the total listings in the area, but still do the majority of their business in Lenox Hill and on the Upper East Side, according to TRD’s findings.

Meanwhile, Town is also making inroads on the Upper East Side, especially since it secured an exclusive to market Bluerock Real Estate’s the Charles, a new 30-unit luxury condominium at 1355 First Avenue. As of last month, Town had 7 percent of the listings on the Upper East Side.

Town has done especially well from 57th to 96th streets east of Fifth Avenue, said Heiberger, who noted that the firm has focused its attention there “because that area has a very high density” of luxury properties.

“Down the road,” he added, “you can expect Town to have at least one additional [office] location on the East Side.”

In Harlem, Elliman has a significant stronghold, but Halstead Property is gaining ground. According to StreetEasy’s data, Elliman had the biggest share of the pie in Central Harlem last month with 19 percent of listings, including a $4.2 million townhouse at 235-237 West 120th Street, but Halstead was hot on its tail with 13 percent.

Echoing a common refrain among firm heads, Halstead CEO Diane Ramirez cited new development sales as a way to gain market share in previously untapped neighborhoods. In Central Harlem, for example, she attributed the firm’s strong presence to the fact that it has marketed several new developments there starting years ago, including Fifth On The Park, a 160-unit condo by Uptown Partners, and 88 Morningside, a 73-unit condo.

“We are one of the few firms that believed in Harlem early on,” she said. “We became strong in new development marketing and now we’re seeing lots of resale [activity] from things we previously sold. Business begets business.”

Halstead is also gaining strength across the river in Dumbo, where it is marketing the new Kirkman Lofts condominium at 37 Bridge Street. Sotheby’s has a reputation for dominating Dumbo, thanks to veteran agent Karen Heyman, who has been selling lofts there since the 1990s. Currently, Heyman has several listings at Two Trees’ pricey new development 1 Main Street, as well as a contemporary townhouse at 175 Water Street asking $4.95 million. As of last month, Sotheby’s had 23 percent of the overall listings inventory in Dumbo, but Halstead was a close second with 21 percent.

Uncharted territory

There are some up-and-coming areas of the city — Bushwick and Greenpoint for example — where Manhattan’s largest firms have yet to gain much market share.

David Maundrell, president of Williamsburg-based AptsandLofts.com, said he focuses on still-gentrifying neighborhoods in Brooklyn where the city’s largest firms haven’t made an aggressive effort to grab listings because prices are still relatively low.

“Do [these areas of Brooklyn] mean as much to those companies as Manhattan does? No, because the revenue is not there,” Maundrell said. “That’s where you can beat them.”

In Greenpoint, the top two players by number of listings are AptsandLofts.com and Greenpoint Properties, a one-office firm based on Manhattan Avenue. Those brokerages each had about 14 percent of the listings on the market last month, according to TRD’s research.

While Elliman, Corcoran and Halstead are active in Greenpoint, they fall behind both of those firms. Elliman had just six of Greenpoint’s 49 total listings last month, while Corcoran had three and Halstead had one.

Maundrell, too, said marketing new construction condos has helped his firm establish a foothold in these neighborhoods. For example, the firm handled sales for the 10-unit condo 145 McGuinness Boulevard, where most of the apartments are now in contract.

But in rapidly gentrifying Bushwick, Elliman is more of a competitor for AptsandLofts.com. The two firms each had just four sales listings out of a total 45 in the neighborhood as of last month, as did Fillmore Real Estate, a family-run brokerage that for years dominated the lower-priced Southern Brooklyn market. The remaining 33 listings were split between 24 other firms. That, of course, doesn’t include rentals, where Maundrell claims AptsandLofts.com dominates.

Meanwhile, Fillmore, formerly one of Brooklyn’s largest firms, has lost ground to Corcoran and Elliman when it comes to listings in more prime areas, but it seems to be holding on in some of the less-gentrified Brooklyn neighborhoods. The firm had just 26 total listings in the specific Brooklyn neighborhoods surveyed by TRD — or 2.4 percent of the Brooklyn pie.

Ramirez said that while the big Manhattan firms are increasing their business in areas like Greenpoint, Bushwick and Bay Ridge, it’s still too early to open offices in those areas.

“We don’t necessarily think we need bricks-and-mortar in each of those areas yet,” she said. “We want to make sure we have the capacity and the agent level first.”

Elliman’s Burke agreed: “Bricks-and-mortar becomes important when you have enough agents doing a considerable amount of business there.”

Bay Ridge — where Staten Island–based RE/MAX Metro has more listings than any other firm — is, in fact, largely ignored by the big Manhattan-based firms. Last month, RE/MAX had exclusives on 24 percent of the 116 sales listings in the neighborhood. Bay Ridge–based Coldwell Banker Reliable and House-N-Key Realty, a 21-agent firm, followed in second and third place.

RE/MAX was previously Century 21 Calabrese Realty, but rebranded to RE/MAX Metro six years ago. Since then, it’s also grown from six or seven agents to 30, said Larry Cricchio, the general manager of the firm.

None of Manhattan’s biggest firms have any significant presence in Bay Ridge, but a number of other firms are active in the neighborhood, including All Points Real Estate, Awaye Realty and Ideal Properties Group. Indeed, there are 36 residential brokerages with active listings in the area, making Bay Ridge one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city.

And sometimes Corcoran, BHS and Elliman get listings in the area, said Cricchio. “But they don’t see the same results we do,” he added.

  • AFineBlogger

    This article was poorly conceived and seems completely inaccurate. How Greenwich Village is not even mentioned is a mystery to me. Also, where are these numbers coming from? For instance, it shows Halstead as having 33 properties on the UES. A quick check of the Halstead website shows 96 active (over 500 if you include in contract). I doubt the number of listing for Halstead has tripled since the article was written. So, can you surmise then that Halstead has the most listings on the UES? As a Halstead broker, that would be nice, but Corcoran shows 223 actively listings on the UES while TRD shows 87. You would think that you would double check the numbers, especially when they all seem quite low.
    @AFineBlogger

    • Katherine Clarke

      Hi AFineBlogger,
      Is it possible you are including rental listings in your analysis? We only included for-sale inventory listed in StreetEasy as of early October.
      We ran the overall numbers past a number of firms and all of them said the numbers sounded about accurate.
      Thanks for your feedback.

      • Ming Azov

        Correct. And also, many of these websites get IDX feeds off different multiple listing services. The listing might not necessarily belong to the respected real estate company. But they are getting the feed that includes listings from smaller brokerages like Bedford Brownstone, Brooklyn Real Property etc.

  • AFineBlogger

    No, just sale listings: http://www.halstead.com/sales/new-york/properties/areas:upper-east-side/ that are active and not in contract. Another example for UES “other firms” in your article have 20% of the market and that is represented by TRD as 79 apartments, yet, a search of streeteasy shows 1291 active sales listings on the UES. 20% of that would be 258, not 79. Feel free to correct me if I am missing something.

  • AFineBlogger

    Got it. You are defining UES as 72-79th river to Fifth and 79th-86th West of Third Ave.

  • pietrang

    Who is the leading broker for the Grand Concourse area near Yankee Stadium? I hear the art deco apartments are beauiful and are being rediscovered by Manhattan Transplants.

MENU

Subscribe to our email newsletters

New York Real Estate News
South Florida Real Estate News